Now that the pope is gone, and the spin has been dragged out for a few days and soon will fade from view, here’s what I’ll remember, and I hope you will too.
How good it felt when everyone was civil and getting along.
I heard countless quips about how remarkable it was that everyone in Washington D.C. seemed happy on the day the Pope came to town. He spoke to the Congress and everyone was civil – perhaps more than civil, perhaps truly unified. Doesn’t it feel great when we’re not searching for reasons to dislike each other?
How much sense he made.
When the Pope says it, loving our neighbor sounds like the most natural thing in the world. When we listen to our better angels, we realize that’s the sort of world we want to live in. Welcoming the stranger and caring for the vulnerable: isn’t that what we would do if we weren’t selfish or afraid? If it made sense to us when the Pope said it, we should figure out how to internalize it now that he’s gone.
How remarkable the simple seemed.
Paying attention to individuals, living out the commitments he expresses, and making his life one long gesture of love: these are the things that have seemed extraordinary since the beginning of his papacy. Why does such integrity shock us so much? I fear the answer.
That he still needs our prayers.
I was bowled over when Pope Francis first came out on the balcony after his announcement and asked us to pray for him. He is still asking us for these prayers, which moves me deeply.
How tired he looked.
He worked so hard for us on this trip, and we can’t expect him to do the good work all alone. The Pope is not magic, though this particular Pope’s ability to inspire at times seems miraculous. He is a person of prayer who has given his life to using his particular personality and skills to spread the Good News. Anyone of us can do this in our own way, and the world needs us to do this. Get yourself going so the Pope can take a nap.
What will you remember from the Pope’s visit?
Image: Pope Francis boards plane from Washington to NYC. US State Dept, public domain.